Ireland to set up tribunal into alleged smear campaign against police whistleblower

DUBLIN, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Irish government will set up a public tribunal of inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against police whistleblower Maurice McCabe, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that we have agreed in principle that we are to set up a tribunal of inquiry under the 1921 Act," Kenny told the parliament.

"Was there an organized smear campaign against McCabe by senior police officers?" will be the central question, he said.

He added he hopes the terms of reference for the public inquiry will be concluded within the next 48 hours.

"When we proceed down the road of having a tribunal of inquiry under 1921 act, we have to be very clear that it is right down the middle in respect of everybody," Kenny said.

He said it is very important that all main players go into the probe with a presumption of innocence.

On Monday, McCabe issued a statement saying he strongly opposed an inquiry that would be held in private. In the statement, McCabe and his wife Lorraine said the truth had now emerged of the "false and shocking campaign" to vilify them. They said there is now "no reason to have any secret or private inquiry".

McCabe is a police Sergeant, recognized for being a whistleblower on penalty points system irregularities within Ireland's national police force.

In 2014, material revealed by McCabe, as well as the handling of the material and of the whistleblowers, led directly to the resignation of Ireland's then Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter. It was also part of the background leading up to the resignation of the Police Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

Irish opposition Sinn Fein has tabled a motion of no confidence in Kenny's minority government over its handling of the police whistleblower controversy. The opposition party says the government is not capable of dealing with the issues around McCabe and that an election is needed.

[ Editor:yfs001]